Big Tech to work with US on cybersecurity after meeting with Biden

26 Aug 2021

Image: © Orhan Çam/Stock.adobe.com

Microsoft and Alphabet will put a combined $30bn into cybersecurity over the next five years and work with public bodies on several initiatives.

Leaders of major tech companies met with US president Joe Biden at the White House yesterday (25 August) to discuss cybersecurity threats and pledged to invest in the sector.

The White House said the meeting was “to discuss opportunities to bolster the nation’s cybersecurity in partnership and individually”. In attendance were leaders from Alphabet, Apple, Microsoft, IBM and Amazon, among others.

Future Human

“Most of our critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector, and the federal government can’t meet this challenge alone,” Biden told the group. “You have the power, the capacity and the responsibility, I believe, to raise the bar on cybersecurity.”

Following the meeting, the administration and the companies involved announced a range of security-related initiatives they had agreed upon.

The White House said that the US National Institute of Standards and Technology would work with major companies to “develop a new framework to improve the security and integrity of the technology supply chain”.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella thanked the president for “convening a critical conversation on cybersecurity” and said his company would invest $20bn in security solutions over the next five years. It will also make $150m available to help US government agencies upgrade protections and expand cybersecurity training partnerships.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google, said he’d been “glad to join” the meeting to discuss private-public cooperation. His company committed to $10bn of investment in cybersecurity over five years, including $100m to support groups that manage open-source security protocols and address vulnerabilities, and training 100,000 people in fields related to security.

Amazon did not put a number on its investment in security, but announced two initiatives: it will publish its internal cybersecurity training materials for public use, and is giving free multi-factor authentication devices to “qualified” customers of Amazon Web Services to help protect against security threats.

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said it was an “honour” to be part of the discussion and that his company would train more than 150,000 people in security over the next three years. IBM will also partner with historically black colleges and universities in the US to build “cybersecurity leadership centres” and diversify the workforce in the sector.

Apple, whose CEO Tim Cook attended the event, said it would aim to “drive continuous security improvements throughout the technology supply chain”, noting that it has more than 9,000 suppliers in the US alone. The company will push these suppliers to adopt features like MFA, security training for employees, incident response protocols, and event logging.

A number of smaller companies and educational institutions were also represented at the meeting and announced initiatives of their own.

Notably absent among the tech giants was Facebook. The company has been disagreeing with the White House over the social network’s handling of pandemic misinformation. In June, Biden said that Facebook was “killing people”, though he later withdrew that remark.

Jack Kennedy is a freelance journalist based in Dublin

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